CHICAGO (WLS) --Will more police officers make Chicago's streets safer? Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson hope so.
Wednesday morning's police graduation and promotion ceremony was so big it was not held in its normal location at Navy Pier. Instead, it was moved to McCormick place.
The mayor remarked during his address that this was the largest graduation and promotion class in recent memory.
Even though 351 people were on stage Wednesday, only 80 are new recruits - a small dent in the city's plan to hire nearly 1,000 new officers by the end of 2018. The mayor's office said the other 271 officers were promoted to detective or sergeant.
"You already did the most difficult thing as a police officer. You made the decision to apply," Johnson said.
But answering the call to duty is much different for these recruits than recruits of years past. After the U.S. Department of Justice conducted an investigation and gave the CPD a scathing review, saying officers have a pattern and practice of excessive force, the department released a long list of new reforms, including revamped technology, training, tactics and psychological assistance.
Officers will now have access to body cameras, high tech sensors that can locate gunshots and an anonymous hotline for CPD members to report officer misconduct.
"It's obviously self-evident that Chicago is going through a period of change," Emanuel said.
The question is, will these changes decrease crime on Chicago's streets and rebuild trust within an embattled department? The new and promoted members of the force hope so.
The mayor's office told ABC7 Eyewitness News Wednesday 178 new recruits have graduated the department and hundreds more are in the pipeline, meaning the city is well on its way to reaching its new-officer goal in the next two years.